Have you ever been so grungy that you clearly felt unclean? In St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana, in the days after Hurricane Katrina, I joined a group of volunteers to help people clean up and repair their homes in the communities of Covington and Mandeville on the north side of Lake Pontchartrain. It was grueling work, and we were truly grungy. We overnighted at a local church with no power and no shower facilities. Someone came up with the brilliant idea to make an outdoor camp shower by drooping a garden hose over the top of a fence as a makeshift shower. For modesty, tarps were thrown over the fences, allowing a couple hundred volunteers from a dozen states to take a decent shower. I was surprised that it felt so good to be clean after a long day of backbreaking labor—and from such a small and simple thing.
I remember a close friend who worked very hard to stay clean, a young father with five small children. He had severe substance abuse problems with various substances, but he had recently developed a deeper desire to conquer them, to really lick it this time. On one visit, we had just sat down to talk with Jason and his wife, when he interrupted, “How do you do it, Dave? How do you get us to feel these things?” After that, we opened our hearts to each other like never before, and our souls were knit together like brothers. Each time, we would plan our next visit, a week away or more often a month away, depending on what he felt he needed for support. Sometimes, in the dead of night, he would just call me out of the blue and say, “Please come, Dave. I need your help. I need to stay clean.” These were some of my favorite moments, sitting and talking in the dark on the small stoop outside his home. But I simply could not go to see him often enough, and I looked forward to each visit with all my heart.
These experiences remind me of how I felt on the day I was baptized. I was eight years old, and I think I was prepared to understand its value. In the months leading up to it, I remember distinctly talking to some young friends who had been baptized recently about how if I were to do any big-time sinning, I had better do it quickly before I was baptized so that I could wash away all those wrongs. While I didn’t yet have the attitude that God wanted me to have in recognizing the sacrifices that His Son has made on my behalf, it was clear that I understood the meaning of the ordinance of baptism as a symbol of cleansed sins and living a new life.
So, here are some secrets of staying clean:
- Recognize the need to get clean.
- Commit to getting clean.
- Put yourself in situations/places where you may stay clean.
- Ask for clean help when you need it.
- Be honestly curious. Learn more about staying clean.
I have learned for myself the importance of getting clean and staying clean. For me, the symbolic cleansing of baptism is a vital part of me doing so.
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1. Read or listen: Alma baptizing as people came into the church of Jesus Christ, Mosiah 18:7-17 (in The Book of Mormon)
2. Watch, listen, or read James E. Faust’s address regarding this sacred ordinance, entitled, “Born Again”. (Length: 18:02.)
3. Resources to stay clean from drugs (most towns have some great community resources; this is merely an example): http://www.louisvilledrugrehabs.com/rehab-types/staying-clean-from-drugs/
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WebCredits—List of web resources used in this post but not explicitly credited above:
- Photo, Katrina volunteers—www. perfectplank.com/katrina.html
- Photo, “Staying Clean And Sober”—www. louisvilledrugrehabs.com/rehab-types/staying-clean-from-drugs/
- Photo Montage, “Getting Clean, Staying Clean”—blog. docsuggest.com/753/personal-hygiene-sofiya-sujad/
- Illustration, “Alma Baptizing People”—www. lds.org/media-library/images/gospel-art/book-of-mormon?lang=eng#alma-baptizing-people-39653
- Photo, “St. Tammany Katrina Clean-up”—www. nola.com/opinions/index.ssf/2014/01/fema_canceling_disaster_loans.html
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